Principles and Purpose of Economics Curriculum
- Students will learn the dynamics of human behaviour at both a micro and a macro level, thereby enabling them to understand how markets work, how markets fail, and the role of institutions within markets.
- Students will be able to model complex economic processes using theoretical constructs, analyse and evaluate the validity of their outcomes, and articulate their findings in a clear way.
- Students will become ethically aware as they learn the principles and moral or ethical problems which can afflict households, firms, and/or governments, and consider their place in tackling some of the challenges that face humanity.
The economics curriculum aims to provide our students with an understanding of their place in a dynamic global economy. By studying economics at BCCS, students will have an appreciation of the lives and works of some of the most influential economists of modern times, thus enabling them to critically evaluate how governments, central banks, and other economic agents co-ordinate economic policy during the economic cycle.
It is our intent that the curriculum will encourage our students to challenge the Classical hypotheses of rationality and perfect markets, and to consider the role of the institutions which seek to correct market failures. By studying empirical data regarding nations’ abilities to achieve key macroeconomic objectives, such as low unemployment and sustainable economic growth, our students will be able to analyse the extent to which markets are fully flexible and evaluate the unintended consequences of government intervention. In a world of big data, the economics curriculum ensures that our students are well placed to understand, interpret and extrapolate the wisdom that lies hidden within such data.
By holding firm to the assumption of ceteris paribus, our students will have the freedom to design, model and analyse the effects of public policy, whilst, at the same time, by relaxing the notion of ceteris paribus, students will be challenged to evaluate the wider ramifications of public policy decisions. The curriculum enables our students to be multivisionary, able to look at problems from many different perspectives.
As a social science, economics examines the dynamics of human behaviour. It is our intent that the curriculum will help to ensure that our students are of good character. Students will be challenged to consider the ethical principles and moral or ethical problems which so often arise when implementing public policy. The curriculum will make certain that students not only know about our world, but will also challenge them to consider how best to live in our world.
Our economics curriculum promotes academic excellence, personal best, character development, and a cognisance of human behaviour in the world in which we live. Our aspiration is that this particular blend of skills will enable our students not only to further their study of economics, but also, and, perhaps more importantly, to do the right thing beyond their time at BCCS.
Why this, why now?
Careful consideration of sequencing has been used to decide on the order in which topics are taught, the Edexcel specification is organised to take into account that Economics has a significant amount of specific vocabulary and models that need to be learnt before in depth analysis and evaluation of Economic policy can be made. This is particularly important given that students come to us with limited or no experience of learning about Economics.
As such we have broadly kept our programme of study in line with the specification with one or two minor changes such as for example in Theme 1, we have moved 1.2.3 Price, income and cross elasticities of demand to after our discussion of 1.2.6 Price determination, 1.2.7 Price mechanism. We feel that a strong understanding of the model of supply and demand is gained in depth by approaching the content in this order before adding in the additional complexity of elasticities. Also, in Theme 3 in Year 13 we focus on 3.3 Costs, Revenues and Profit, which allows students to get to grips with a complex graph of costs and revenues before returning to 3.2 Business Objectives with a tool to be able to analyse and evaluate the impacts of different business objectives.
Teaching the Economics Curriculum
Economics at BCCS is taught by a department of subject specialist teachers who are engaged with continued professional development. Students become secure in their knowledge through explicit instruction, before engaging in tasks that allow them to also develop their critical thinking, ultimately deciding the answer themselves. We therefore create active learners.
In Economics we use a range of strategies to promote inspiration and engagement in the subject:
- Ensure all topics are taught with reference to up to date news and real world examples so students are engaged in real world issues and solutions.
- Questions to promote curiosity.
- Differentiated choice tasks so all are engaged, challenged and supported and so all own their learning experience.
- Many tasks are based around critical thinking pedagogy students must think about thinking and figure out the answer - no answers are handed on a plate.
- Content heavy elements of Economics are delivered in a variety of engaging ways - examples include student presentations, independent research tasks, class debates, games, speed dating.
- Use of questioning and discussion through a variety of formats
- Use of video clips, documentaries and articles for real world application of Economics theory.
The nature of the subject demands that students are regularly and routinely revisiting prior learning to reinforce their learning. The start of most lessons will recap on prior learning incorporating regular low stakes multiple choice tests. Students are always encouraged to select knowledge and understanding from across the specification when they are planning and writing their extended answers. Students are taught throughout the course to think like economists and draw upon all of the knowledge they have to analyse an issue or answer a question. It is also made very clear to them that the learning in economics is often very sequential, hence students must be continually reinforcing and embedding their prior learning.
Assessing the Economics Curriculum
Throughout KS5 students are assessed regularly through both formative and summative assessment methods. Regular questioning both verbal and written short form answers in class along with low stakes Multiple Choice Questions give teachers ample opportunity to identify misconceptions and gaps in understanding that can be remedied promptly in the moment of future lessons adjusted to address these. Students use Seneca (an online learning platform) throughout KS5 as part of their regular homework which gives immediate feedback to students through computer marked questions and teachers look at the outcomes and give whole class feedback based on weaknesses identified.
Each half term in Year 12 students complete a formal assessment for both Micro and Macro economics created to test the content covered using exam style questions, feedback is then given both as whole class and individual WWW and EBIs and redrafts are required of all students to improve the quality of at least one written answer. Students use Seneca (an online learning platform) as part of their regular homework which gives immediate feedback to students through computer marked questions and teachers look at the outcomes and give whole class feedback based on weaknesses identified. Progress exams are sat after Easter in Year 12 for both Macroeconomics and Microeconomics and again whole class feedback is delivered along with 1-2-1 meetings with each student to discuss strengths and weaknesses and support students with redrafting key answers and resitting the exams if necessary.
From the summer term of Year 12 onwards formal assessment switches to essays and long answer questions to build essay writing techniques and focus on evaluation and development of higher quality accurate, precise Economics argument. Students sit Mock exams in January for Papers 1 and 2 and March for paper 3 with feedback delivered in the same way as for the year 12 progress exams
Progression in the Economics Curriculum
Careful thought is given in terms of the teaching of key components to ensure that Year 12 provides students with a basic grounding in key economic principles and concepts. Most students come to us with little or no prior experience of learning Economics and therefore the main initial focus is on content, they will often have relevant skills in writing using a similar approach to that used in other social sciences they have used at GCSE.
In Microeconomics understanding the basic economics problem and basic operation of market forces must be gained before students can analyse how markets fail and how governments can intervene to prevent this. In Macroeconomics, economic indicators, influences on them and key measures of them must be understood before policies to improve them can be discussed. There is a wide range of new technical vocabulary in both Micro and Macro units. It needs time and practice for students to become sufficiently economically literate to deconstruct the exam case studies and write at length using the terminology.
Year 13 has a stronger focus on the application of these basic concepts in terms of studying more ‘applied’ topics that allow students to use their economic understanding to analyse key issues such as inequality and globalisation in Macroeconomics and the impact of market structures on labour markets, consumers and businesses in Microeconomics. Teachers re-visit the content from AS in the context of using the vocabulary and models previously learned to understand, analyse and predict the outcomes of various Economic policies choices at a local, national and international level. The content of Paper 1 and Paper 2 is delivered in full prior to the Christmas break so students have seen all the content before Mock exams in January. This also allows sufficient time to focus on Paper 3 which contains no new content but requires students to answer questions synoptically bringing together their Microeconomic and Macroeconomic knowledge.
Students will have acquired key skills in analysis and evaluation and have developed excellent essay writing skills. They will be able to apply classical theory to contemporary issues and choose appropriate examples to demonstrate their understanding. They will be active global citizens with increased social awareness and curiosity.